Parul Pandey, Vice President – Talent and Engagement, Diageo India, moved into the alcobev sector by chance after her stints with IT companies. She always looks for making an impact and at her current job, she is busy building a winning team and an inclusive culture, and assuring a healthy leadership pipeline for Diageo India.
Parul’s father was only 10 when he migrated from Pakistan to India with two brothers, sister and mother. Extremely determined to do well, he studied up to Masters on merit scholarship, and started teaching English in DAV College, Chandigarh. “My mom, a homemaker, spent her life being a pillar of strength to the entire family.” Parul recalls her extended family and father’s friends coming over to enjoy her mom’s sumptuous cooking and her father’s collection of whiskies. “Despite limited means, my father loved to live in style,” she fondly recollects. She likes to quote her late father’s pet motivators — “Good education is the only route to salvation!”, “Handsome is that handsome does!” and “There are no free lunches!” These became her mantras. She did her PhD from University Business School, Chandigarh.
Getting into Diageo
happened by chance for Parul. Her first job was with HCL Technologies as HR Executive and the last job before joining Diageo was with Microsoft. ‘After Microsoft, I was looking for an opportunity to join an organisation that needed my skill and competence, where I could make an impact. A common connect referred me to the CHRO of Diageo, and I reached him through LinkedIn,” she conveys. After a month, she had joined the Diageo India team.
Family Support Her mother was very supportive of her new role and was more curious about the compensation rather than the industry. “When I shared the news with my fatherin-law, he paused, and in an amused way rubbished my anxieties, saying, ‘Now whatever may happen, at least, I won’t have to worry about my whisky stock’.” However, her 13-year-old son opposed her career choice. He was worried what kind of people worked there, and said that he won’t be as proud of her as he was when she was working with Microsoft. Her daughter who had just moved to London for graduation laughed it off saying:
“We all consume alcohol, it is like any other product we buy, so what is the big deal?” Her son’s misgivings were short-lived. After a week in Diageo, he said, “You look happier than before, looks like they are treating you well.”
Times with Diageo
Two months into her new job, she had to present a proposal for developing talent, building an inclusive culture and assuring a leadership pipeline. In the beginning, there was opposition to some of her ideas, but her seniors saw her viewpoint and accepted her plan. “I felt not only hugely empowered, but also experienced a sense of massive responsibility,” she points out. Fortunately, she has never had to face the barb that the alcobev industry is the preserve of men. “Today, there are very interesting stories on how women employees in our field are transforming the industry,” she asserts. She has much to be proud of, having brought up two children and navigating through life and earning strong credibility as a professional. Her goal is to ‘touch lives, live fully and leave