Annu Pramod

Please share a brief on your company and product portfolio.

PeoplePro was founded in the Silicon Valley of India – Bengaluru – in the year 2000 by a trio who found a gap in the system that they thought they should address. As they interviewed people in the corporate sector, they realised that freshers were technically sound but unable to properly face an interview, speak about themselves or even work well in a team. The men set about and successfully plugged the gap, with the result that the organisation has been going strong for over 22 years. The three verticals PeoplePro works in are education, corporate and community. The main tag line for PeoplePro is Transforming Lives. The team in Dubai is also an all-woman team.

Starting with just one product, PeoplePro has now expanded to include multiple programmes for schools, encompassing students, teachers as well as parents, since they are the key stakeholders. SALT (Skills and Attitudes for Life Transformation, an integrated curriculum) Captains (for the school council); Lead Edge (online); Kool Kamp (vacation camps); Teach2Transform (for teachers); Parenting Idea Clubs (for parents); Employability Skills programmes called WorkReady for Universities, Corporate training programmes, HR Re-alignment/Process Re-Engineering (helping organisations create efficient HR processes) and Community Involvement are some of the programmes on offer in the PeoplePro stable.

There are over 150 modules on SEL/Leadership/Emotional Intelligence, all of which include communication skills, assessments etc.

I, personally am a John Maxwell certified trainer, speaker and coach, and a CCA certified Professional Life Coach, with a background in HR working for MNCs, before finding my passion. At PeoplePro, all our programmes are aimed at creating and molding a generation that can speak for itself confidently, face challenges creatively, work in a team and learn to be resilient, among other skills.

You could understand more on or through our social media handles.

What are the challenges you foresee for your sector in 2023?

One major challenge we have faced after the onslaught of the pandemic was the shift to online learning. Leadership cannot be really taught online using experiential learning methodology. It has to be face to face. However, we took the challenge head on and we had to truly think out of the box! But we were rewarded. The greatest advantage was the lack of territorial restrictions. We had people from different parts of the world joining our sessions. We were impacting more lives than before!

It is important for educators to understand that SEL is as important as academics. Research shows that schools that integrate SEL into their curriculum have performed significantly better than schools that don’t. Even academic performance increases when there are soft skills also being taught alongside. Getting people to make the right choice is a task we love to take up.

The financial downturn forecasted for this year could impact us but I choose to look at it in faith than in fear. We have managed to stay afloat through every high and low. We may need to dig deeper, think bigger, but I know we will come up with ways to overcome the challenges.

How important is innovation and R&D for your company, how big a part do they play in the company’s overall growth strategy?

Over the years, leadership has evolved as technological advancements took place and the challenges faced by students now look very different than when we started. For any organisation to grow intentionally and to sustain its growth, it is important to know the pulse, the changing landscape and what works and what needs to be trashed or archived. Although basic principles remain the same, our R&D team is always researching and introducing new programmes, innovative ways of teaching leadership, social emotional skills, emotional intelligence etc. If we do not innovate, we stagnate, and we cannot afford to do that since what we are dealing with here is human character and transformation.

With Dubai hosting COP28 this year, how is your company hoping to contribute to the nation’s climate sustainability and carbon footprint goals?

PeoplePro has always advocated sustainability and eco-friendly solutions. With COP28 taking place in our own land, it has become so much more real and when we teach the Agenda 2030, we are very aware of the fact that we just have 7 years left to realise this goal. 17 goals and just 7 years. So much done, yet so much more left. We always encourage our students to do their bit for the environment, to not print, to reduce carbon footprint. We ensure that our students plant saplings, use eco-friendly materials for our activities, etc.

We have competitions where the students are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with sustainable solutions that can be implemented on a personal basis. Sustainability has always been a part of our ethos, more so now because of COP28.

Satisfied staff equals satisfied customers. Would you believe in this phrase and if yes, how do you plan to carry this narrative forward through your teams?

Every person who is part of the team at PeoplePro is there because they have bought into the vision that we have. They completely own it and everything they do contributes to the fulfilment of this vision. We have a very flat organisation and a very transparent one. Transparency goes a long way in ensure a sense of ownership and loyalty among team members. They are allowed to be creative, innovative and to bring in their own ideas that can be implemented to serve the bigger goal.

Having a team of wonderful people who treat the organisation as their own translates into satisfied customers because what my team does, comes from the heart and everyone understands heart language. Customers buy into what is visible and expressed and that is our secret. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our moments of despair but we believe what has worked thus far will surely carry us through. We have evolved to keep up with the times but our narrative still remains the same – empathy brings transformation.

What are your company’s expansion plans over the next 5-year term?

PeoplePro has been in the business of transforming lives for over 22 years. It has created an impact throughout India, Maldives and UAE. Our five year plan is to see the organisation spread its wings in GCC and Africa. There is a lot of potential waiting to be tapped. We have started to make progress and hope to soon expand.

As a corporate CEO, what is the mantra you follow while leading your teams through failure and success?

The mantra we have is to build the company not on what will be but what is… It is ok to fail if we fail correctly. Removing failure or the option of failure is a classic sign of arrogance. Failure leads us to humility and success and failure together makes the dream work. It makes you resilient. Learn from the mistakes and failures. That is the right response to failures. When we slog it out and put in our best effort, success is sure to follow. However, the response to the failures is what will build our character. Everything we do would be a trial and error. We win some, we learn from some. When we fail, learn from the mistakes, improve and redo it.

Since we are dealing with human behaviour, it is very subjective and there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Each person is different and what worked with one need not work with another. So we learn and grow each day. We wouldn’t want to go back and revisit a situation in order to do it right because what we learnt from that failure has contributed to building our character. Fail, but fail forward, as Dr John C Maxwell says.